Though the Patriots are already waist-deep in preparing for Denver, much of Tuesday's NFL buzz is still stuck on the previous night's game.
New England lost, 24-20, in a primetime game against the Panthers. The outcome hinged on a controversial final call, when officials whistled for defensive pass interference on Rob Gronkowski's potential go-ahead touchdown catch. They ended up picking up the flag and awarding the win to Carolina.
Head coach Bill Belichick was clearly displeased in the aftermath: "There was no explanation given to me," he growled.
The rescinded penalty was hashed and rehashed the following morning in sports news and talk radio. Belichick, however, would not indulge further discussion on his conference call.
"I don't really have any comments to add on the officiating or any of those calls," he stated. "If you have any questions on that, talk to the league office. It's not really our job to call the game. We coach it. We can't let that affect what we're doing. We just have to coach the techniques and do the things that are right within the rules."
An explanation did come out later in the post-game pool report. Referee Clete Blakeman explained how a huddle with the side judge and umpire determined the pass to Gronkowski was uncatchable, and therefore no penalty could be called against the defense.
Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia was asked Tuesday whether, in his understanding of the rule book, defensive pass interference could have been called on the play.
"I'm just really right now trying to turn the page, working on Denver," he replied after a long pause. "I just let the officials do the officiating. That's not my job. My job is to coach the players and try to do better with what we're doing defensively. Certainly, obviously, we've got some improving to do."
Belichick concluded the conversation.
The coach was fined by the NFL last year after grabbing an official by the arm, after New England's September 23 loss to the Ravens, in an effort to gain explanation about how Baltimore won the game on a field goal that appeared to miss the mark.
He's since learned to let well enough alone.
"I really don't have anything to add or comment on that," Belichick concluded. "Whatever the officials think is the only thing that matters. It doesn't matter of what any of us think; they're the ones who make the calls. It's their explanation and their judgment that we all have to abide by."